Social cohesion challenges in Europe
Title: Social cohesion challenges in Europe
Series/Number: EU-US Immigration Systems; 2011/04
Recent decades saw increasing levels of immigration to European countries. This has lead to a more diverse population in Europe, and often this increased diversity is seen as a challenge to social cohesion. At the beginning of the 21st century, the political rhetoric has become harsher, with immigration, Islam, and security increasingly mentioned in one breath. Economic pressures because of global recession are similar in most European countries, leading to lower levels of economic integration, and thus may affect social cohesion. The article presents a number of reasons why reactions differ across Europe. Reasons include the ability of immigrants to adjust the recession, or different historical legacies of immigration. Moreover, the role of the welfare state in issues of immigration and social cohesion is highlighted. The welfare state plays an important role in cultural and social integration – which can differ significantly from economic integration – and can explain why social cohesion and the state of the economy are not directly linked. In European countries, the welfare state to some degree counters purely economic trends. Additionally, the article argues that stricter immigration policies tend not to affect areas directly relevant to social integration and social cohesion, where there are possibly no real alternatives to encouraging integration. Yet, the perception in society that social cohesion is under threat can lead to hostile reactions, but this is not necessarily the case. The political system and historical differences play a crucial role in how issues of immigration are politicized in times of economic crisis.
Improving EU and US Immigration Systems' Capacity for Responding to Global Challenges: Learning from Experiences
Type of Access: openAccess